Barnet v Crewe: What we learned from the 0-0 draw

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Barnet v Crewe: A draw that could and should have been a win but for John Akinde’s profligacy

Barnet drew with Crewe at The Hive in a 0-0 draw which so easily could have been a home win had John Akinde shown more composure in the last minute of the game.

But what did we learn about Martin Allen’s side during the match?

John Akinde IS human

Who knew? Seven goals in his last five games before today and 14 all season means the 27-year-old is currently one of the entire Football League’s form strikers.

But twice he had chances on his left foot, the second the last kick of the game when clean through on goal, to score what would surely have been a decisive goal.

Most of all he struggles for support. His physicality gets him a long way but if he had another striker – say the injured Michael Gash – alongside him, then he would find it a lot easier to isolate defenders.

The Barnet kids are alright – enter Ephron Mason-Clark

The introduction of 17-year-old Ephron Mason-Clark had a few in the press box scrambling for their notebooks to check that it was indeed his professional league debut.

It was. Twice he has come on in the Checkatrade Trophy and impressed and after two weeks training with the first team, Allen gave him a chance to change a game.

He almost did so instantly, beating a man and playing Mauro Vilhete in down the right-hand side whose cross very nearly led to the opening goal.

The pacy forward ended up playing alongside Akinde up front and proved a very capable foil to the Bees’ top scorer.

Allen could not speak highly enough of his play and his attitude afterwards – he will be seen plenty more times in a black shirt it seems.

January will probably be pretty a quiet month at Barnet

The manager’s praise of Mason-Clark and promise to continue with the use of the youngsters suggests that while Barnet are short of strikers thanks to the injuries to Gash, Shaun Batt and Jamal Campbell-Ryce, the transfer market will not be where they find more.

There is a distinct lack of cutting edge to the team at the moment – Akinde has scored 63% of their league goals this season and the only other with more than one is Luke Gambin (2).

Even so, I understand the policy to look within for reinforcements will continue with January transfers by no means the first port of call.

You can’t keep a Mad Dog down

Allen is always desperate to keep his own profile well behind the performances of his team but at a club with which he has such a strong association, he will always be a big figure.

This week, he was not expected to be on the touchline after a medical procedure to do with some tightened arteries.

Surprisingly, he turned up but was supposed to be taking a back seat. When the Bees found themselves struggling to stamp their authority on the game, he could not help himself.

His passion for the club and the game is infectious and while the biggest stand is of course the place to sit at The Hive, the chance to be within earshot of Allen for the whole game never fails to entertain. Probably to the detriment of his own health.

The enigma of Ryan Watson

Watson clearly has something. His dead-ball delivery, range of passing and first touch tell you he is a player with proper pedigree.

But the last three months have been a proper rollercoaster for him.
At 23, he is a player just starting to work out what exactly he is and where his level in the game is.

Midway through the first half, Allen had some words for him about stepping up and getting involved in the game as opposed to lying deep next to Tom Champion.

Just before half-time, he had a lot more.

Mad Dog tore his teeth into the midfielder after failing to put his force into a tackle against ‘some f**king kid’.

I was convinced he would be given the elbow at half-time – clearly he was given 10 minutes to atone for his error before Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro replaced him.

Sam Togwell is back after six weeks out, a surprise appearance on the bench today, and will represent a significant threat to Watson’s place.

Still something of a youngster, he needs to learn to go forward with and without the ball – he cannot always be as indirect and perfectionist as he wants to be. Sometimes you have to take a risk.

One thought on “Barnet v Crewe: What we learned from the 0-0 draw

  1. Pingback: Barnet v Notts County: What we learned about Ephron Mason-Clark, John Akinde and Luke Gambin during the 3-2 win | James Gray Writes

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